Understanding the space and content constraints of any medium is paramount to success in marketing and advertising. Making an impact and giving enough information for someone to want to know more is what is important in visual advertising. Think of visual advertising like a dinner party with strangers, you tend to avoid the kinds of people that you have seen monopolizing people’s time or speaking incessantly over everyone else. So, you can think of your visual advertising in the same way as you would a dinner party with strangers. Keep it light and casual. Don’t try to tell anyone about your life story. Share enough that you are remembered.
What about Billboards?
There are many kinds of visual advertisements and the amount of info that you want to give on them can vary greatly depending on the medium. Billboards are the first kind of advertising medium that many businesses like to use and we at Element 502 have designed and consulted on for years. The biggest mistake that people often make with billboard advertising is trying to tell too much. Writing needs to be big and your point needs to be made fast, literally. Most people that will see your billboard on the interstate will be far away from your sign and traveling at a high rate of speed, unless they are stuck in gridlock traffic. That is something that should be taken into consideration. If you are a company that replaces care A/C units, you might consider putting a billboard near a notorious gridlock section of highway. In this situation you are also given the freedom of being a little more verbose. There is an HVAC company here in the Louisville area that makes good use of gridlock sections of the highway by having signs saying things like “Your wife is really hot!” and then making a sell on getting a new air conditioning system to cool her down. It is much wordier than most billboards need to be. But, they have made do with their knowledge of the area and the traffic conditions.
However, in most situations, your billboards will be placed in areas of fast-moving traffic. Think back to your last road trip through a rural area. Most billboards you see just show a logo, maybe as a question or give a qualitative statement, and give you a means to get acquire their services whether that be an exit to pull off on or a phone number to call. Sometimes less is more and sometimes given the meaning, less has to be more. Telling a company story on a billboard is not the best medium. We recommend sticking to quick punchy billboards that make the people want to know more. Some of the most iconic billboards of all time said nothing other than “Eat at Joe’s”, and “See Rock City”.
Are display ads any different?
If you are looking to do any kind of display ad placement whether in be in-application ads or banner ads on websites, understanding your sizing and placement restrictions is pivotal in getting your point across. Just like with the billboards with small writing, you need to be conscious of the sizing of these ads. Some are going to be used on small 4”-5” phones or on something like a standard 22” desktop monitor. You need the art to look sharp and be easily deciphered on any kind of device and also have a hook that will make people notice what you’re offering as a compelling idea. You do have the advantage with display ads in that they are typically animated Gifs that can have 3-5 panels that cycle through. Most of the time these can be a great venue to ask your desired customers a question and then propose a value proposition on a second or third slide. So, if you fall back to our HVAC example from earlier. This is where you could ask if you’re tired of your air conditioning breaking and offer the customer a free inspection and quote for a new system or repair. Pairing that line of question and value proposition with good imagery of a sweltering family or blazing hot sun can do wonders for drawing your key consumer to the ad and give them a call to action.
Getting your desired consumers to look at your ads is hard enough. Placement, whether it is digital or physical (ie. billboards, subway ads, bus ads, etc), is hard enough. You have to pair those eyes with the kind of content that will be relevant but also something that they can digest at the speed with which they will see it. Many display ads and billboards will only be seen for a few seconds at a time and many won’t even be noticed. So, catering your message and design to meet those needs is pivotal to breaking through to new markets. We do that every day at Element 502 and we would love to help you get a step above the competition.